The plenary of the Senate yesterday went into executive session to find remedy to a reported motion for reconsideration on the recent passage of the LISCR/Maritime Agreement.
The motion for the Senate to go into close-door session became necessary after an angry and disappointing looking Margibi County Senator, Oscar Cooper, once again in many weeks running requested that his letter for reconciliation be placed on yesterday’s proposed agenda under Any Other Business (AOB.)
In his argument, Senator Cooper reminded his colleagues that the only way a Senator representing his/her people can be heard is through a letter, which he maintained, is not a privilege of the leadership or the Pro Tempore to deny on a “democratic floor” of the Senate; “This is the way Senators are heard, through communication to plenary.”
He added, “I have been patient, demonstrated due process since April 7, I have written this communication to come on this floor. To be muffled as a Senator from Margibi County is not in the spirit of democracy; in the spirit of what is supposed to establish in this honorable body.
“I am cautioning my colleagues that every Senator has the right to be heard; that is the democratic process and should be maintained, Mr. President.”
However, the President of the Senate, Vice President Joseph Boakai, who has been presiding for the past two sittings, cautioned Senator Cooper that the Senate works as a unit, and as such, decides on what should happen; “and when there is an issue, and others don’t agree, we have to test that, I am not the one to decide on it.”
In the vote that followed, 16 Senators agreed that Senator Cooper’s letter must be discussed in executive session, while two voted against and two abstained.
In a press briefing last Thursday, Senator Cooper expressed regret that his letter which is in reference to the LISCR agreement has not been able to reach the Senate floor.
“We ratified that agreement without the proper two thirds vote by duly seated members, so that agreement cannot be binding; I brought it up to the leadership, and I wrote again on Wednesday, yet my communication can’t seem to hit the floor eventhough everybody else’s can get on the floor.”
He protested that the LISCR Agreement passed in real sense is for 20 years, not 10 years which is a generation; and that the next three presidents will be saddled with that agreement.
“We violated several of our rules such as Rule 34 sub-section 1&2, Rule 38 Sub-section 2&3 and Rule 65 in the passage of that ratification, and in so doing that ratification must come back to the Senate to be properly done; whether we pass it or not, it must be done within the rules.”
He then requested his fellow colleagues to see reason, saying, he recalled filing loudly on that day the motion for reconsideration, but it wasn’t accepted by the President Pro Tempore, Armah Jallah.
“Motion for reconsideration is a privilege motion, which must be recognized and tested by the full Senate and not at the will and desire of the Pro Tempore to accept it. If they have given me the opportunity, they would have seen that my motion in the ratification was in violation of several rules.”
Meanwhile, because of secret nature of the executive session, it was not known up to press time yesterday whether Senator Cooper’s motion for reconsideration was granted.